Idaho union leader: Legislature is attacking working families

From Dave Whaley, President of the Idaho AFL-CIO:


Idahoans have been inundated with misinformation and innuendos that unions are the reason Idaho is in such dire economic straits. They are expected to believe that only by diminishing the unions so called ‘power’ and getting rid of ‘big union bosses’ will Idaho be able to recover from this economic crisis.

Let’s set the record straight. Middle class workers in Idaho are what make the UNION. They are the well trained and highly skilled Operators and Ironworkers who build your schools, roads and bridges. UNION Electricians wire your homes and businesses. UNION Plumbers & Fitters install the medical gas piping used in hospital surgery rooms. UNION Sheet Metal workers install the duct work in your homes and businesses for heating and air conditioning. UNION Postal workers deliver your mail and UNION checkers help you at the grocery store. UNION Communication Workers install your telephones. UNION Steelworkers make your paper products and UNION Machinists produce lumber for your houses. Those same UNION workers attend church with you and volunteer in your community. They are your neighbors and your friends. They choose to belong to a UNION just as many other Idaho workers have chosen to belong to associations or councils.

Idaho’s focus should be on creating living wage jobs and restoring the middle class. Public employees like our teachers, firefighters and police are essential to the well-being of our communities. Attacks on Idaho’s middle class are not the answer to economic recovery nor are the continued tax breaks being handed out to big businesses. Economic recovery can only happen if everyone takes responsibility, including corporations.

Idaho needs to have a balanced budget but that doesn’t mean destroying tomorrow’s future to do it. It’s time for action, not political rhetoric. Idaho’s small businesses and our communities are in a crisis. This crisis will not be solved by cutting essential services that affect the well-being of our families and communities. We must invest in job creation—to rebuild our crumbling schools and roads—to lead in green technology. The most effective way to reduce our deficit is to create jobs, thereby contributing to the tax base and growing the middle class. Unions bring people together and use the strength of the members to protect the well-being of our families and communities. Workers, acting together through their unions, are the last best defense to stop the attacks on the middle class. Without unions we cannot restore balance to our economy and those attacks will go unanswered.

Dave Whaley, President
Idaho State AFL-CIO


The letter comes one day after the Idaho House passed two bills to limit the power of unions. The bills have already passed the Senate.

From the Associated Press:

The first prohibits “project labor agreements” requiring contractors to forge pacts with unions as a condition of winning government construction jobs. The second forbids unions from using membership dues to subsidize wages to help contractors with union workers win projects.

After the November 2010 election solidified Idaho’s GOP majority, conservatives in both the state Senate and House have gone after unions with gusto. Idaho is already a right-to-work state, where workers haven’t been required to join unions as a job condition since 1985.

The teachers' union has also been blasted by supporters of school superintendent Tom Luna's education-reform bills. The bills would eliminate continuing contracts for teachers and limit collective bargaining to wages and benefits.

Right on the Money

because this is about money and power. Government has been used to redirect wealth upwards since the Reagan regime. Wall Street nearly finished off the working class with their runaway criminality. Now they are back to finish the job, and Republicans are working hard to repay their corporate masters.

Once the unions have been destroyed, who will Republicans blame for their inability to govern?


If this guy had his way unions would grow in Idaho just like they have in Wisconsin and we'd have public union members demanding tax increases so they could keep their high pay, free pensions, and free benefits.

You mean like the elite do now?

you're probably right. Any group that has too much power, ultimately gets corrupt.

But his point isn't wrong. And on a bigger point, while I really don't like unions - mostly because I have been the GM of several operating plants & what a union represents to me, is a failure of management to keep in touch with the workforce which is the ultimate insult to a general manager - annnnyway...... while i don't like unions, I hate politicians who try to silence their opposition.

And that is exactly what's going on. The GOP is trying to silence a voice of opposition & on that basis alone, I reject the GOP's attempt to muzzle unions.

That's not right, that's not fair & the GOP is using politics to silence it's opposition.

Free Pension?

Teachers pay into the pension plan and into social security every month. They pay it, when they retire, they get it back. It's not free. It's paid for. Benefits are only paid for the employee, not any family members.
Please stop spreading lies.

My bro in law taught 32 years. Now retired. Great guy.

He paid in $126,000 in 32 years to his pension. He now collects 96,000/year. $72,000 base and a health plan worth $24,000.
Oh, it gets better. My bro is now 62 years old and his mom is 97. Sooo our state will support him well into his 90's.
As the real "working people", struggle with upside down mortgages, bro in law is livin large with a 7 handicap. But thats ok.
If he is a professional, changing lives of young people, and setting an example I will have no problem contributing to that. But, while I'm slaving running a business,after work, over beers he tells me, "had a meeting, 8 till 10:30, got paid for the whole day". Not Idaho but Wisco similar.

How do you know he'll make 90?

He worked, contributed and is getting what he was promised.

Why do you have a beef with him, other than jealousy?

Why do you offer that it will continue or for that matter, be of any benefit at the levels you mention in 10 years?

A lot of people operate of the priniciple of static economy, even when they know it isn't so. It's a kind of denial.

I'm glad your brother can golf and be happy now for obviously all our wellbeings will falter eventually and we must prepare to take those final measures to make our demises less burdensome, at least finacially.

So you know that you are only teasing to ease the fear and pain to come.


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He laid 126K to collect 3 million in 30 years.

No taxpayer has that opportunity, through the state. I'm not jealous, he's on of my best friends. Also, he agrees with me on his pension.
Maybe I can make it simple to you. Imagine an investment that guarantees you 30 times your your initial cost. With zero downside risk. Easy money, easy living.

So? Death doesn't care...and that was a good and likely return.


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He isn't getting what he was

He isn't getting what he was promised... he is getting what others are promised.

Pensions, absent mandates for pay in = pay out + earnings, are a ponzi scheme, and nothing less.

So work until you are dead, Master Soviet.


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

Nice slant

If an employee quit receiving funds out of the pension once their contributions equal their payouts, then you would be correct. But how can someone earning $50k / yr, working for 30 years, paying in an obscenely high 10% to the pension ($5k/yr = $150k in total contributions) then turn around and retire and earn (for example) 50% base pay ($25k) for the rest of their life? After only 6 years, that individual will have withdrawn all the money they saved.

In a just society, that person would then quit receiving a pension, so as not to rob other current workers of their pensions.

But we do not have a just system. Instead, state pensions are just like Social Security.... fewer and fewer workers are paying the retirement for more and more retirees. More money is going out than in and eventually pensions will fall flat broke.

So please explain what kind of math is used to justify a lifelong pension beyond contributions?

ccd3 is a liar.

There is no such thing as high pay, free pensions or free benefits.
ccd3 lives in lala land.

ccd3's Fear Tactics

That's all you ever spew. How can you ever justify the government giving more money to the wealthy while taking from the working class? And, really, the working class has "high pay?" Where's mine?

Who's next??

Who's going to be the next target of this fanatic legislative session. We always want to blame somebody for our problems and this time it's the unions. Who are we going to blame for our problems the next time around and what laws are we going to pass to stomp on their rights.

Thank you Mr. Whaley!

I absolutely agree with your statements:

"Idaho’s focus should be on creating living wage jobs and restoring the middle class. Public employees like our teachers, firefighters and police are essential to the well-being of our communities. Attacks on Idaho’s middle class are not the answer to economic recovery nor are the continued tax breaks being handed out to big businesses. Economic recovery can only happen if everyone takes responsibility, including corporations."

Pro, You are really funny when you explain things using the

The terminology of Marx as perfected by Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers and under revision by Barack Hussein Obama. Ha ha.

And you are really funny

When you try to talk like you have a point and yet never do.

Ah yes

words of uncomprehending "wisdom" from the Proletarians pet pocket mouse and fellow traveler.


Thanks for continuing to prove my point.


made mine comrade.

I'm blushing from all the hot sex talk...gee, FS


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Godwin's Law Validated Again

Godwin's law:"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches"

Marx is a valid substitute for Hitler because after such is made a valid discussion is not possible.

You apparently

Haven't had a valid discussion in years, however your comments indicate that you have a keen appreciation of Marx and Alinski - as well as a "Liberal dose" of postmodern angst.

What does Kevin Godwin have to do with it?


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

Ill pay ya...

if you can name one thing that Marx said, with out having to search for it.....

I have a funny feeling, you didn't do so well in Soc 101...

My favorite Marxist terminology is...

Say the secret word and the duck will drop down to give you $50!


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Typical union leaders!

We need to get the unions out of Idaho, whether educational or any other! They've always been trouble throughout history, and haven't changed today!

Out of Idaho. . .

Let's get the da out. Paleezze. Unions protect workers.

Unions are made to fight.

Unions are made to fight. What happens when the workers have what they need? A union will fight for what it doesn't need, but what it wants. More.

I have been unemployed for 2 years of the past 4 years. Despite that, I operate on a cash basis and have no debt but my house. I have a budget to force expenditures to equal income each quarter.

When will the government be as fiscally sound? Will public employee unions allow the government to be balanced? OR do they care only about their members?

Will the defense industry allow the government to be balanced?

Look, if you hate unions, go ahead, but do use ignorant arguments such as 'the unions are causing budget deficits'. The Fed govt budget is about 3.8 trillion, of that about 1.4 trillion or so is spent on defense spending and the new 'homeland' security apparatus. Which do you think affects the Fed budget more? The unions or the defense industry? Even then I the defense industry is not causing deficits; politicians we elect, making choices that someone benefits from, creates the deficit.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart


On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor day, Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Trade Unions were outlawed by Adolf Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike was abolished. This was the beginning of a consolidation of power by the fascist regime which systematically wiped out all opposition groups, starting with unions, liberals, socialists, and communists using Himmler’s state police.


I heard a commentor say last night that out of the top 10 entities giving campaign contributions last year only 3 were unions. The other 6 were conservative organizations. If they remove the unions they will have total power over our elections. Kind of like how the Nazi's did it as you describe.

Don't forget the dynamics of

Don't forget the dynamics of a mid term election. Opposition parties are always more energized in the mid-term election, so that opposition funding would outweigh incu.mbent funding is pretty much a given.

The only way we will make progress

is for the working class to come together. The upper class wins when we are divided and fight amongst ourselves. Disregard the lame and the shills and fight for our right to have a decent quality of life and a living wage.


Should I start collecting guns and bombs for the proletarian revolution or are you gonna do that?

Proletarichkid. And guilty.

Your freakin lame, alright. Close your Marxist book and climb on, yafreak.

I believe the Beatles had a similar philosophy...


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How quickly we forget.


I used to belong to a union, back before "right to work". I worked for a grocery store in Boise as a box boy - I think the actual title was "Courtesy Clerk". Union membership was compulsory if I wanted the job. But the union worked to get me benefits.

They negotiated my wage - the federal minimum wage.
They negotiated my health insurance - none.
They negotiated my working hours - the federal minimum time and hour rates.
They negotiated my breaks - 10 minutes every two hours and an unpaid 30 minute lunch.

For that, I had something like $8.00 deducted from my paycheck every month. That was about four hours of work. So, my eight bucks accounted for about 20 or so 10 minute breaks. Yipee, as a high school student, that's about how many breaks I got in a month.

But the non-union grocery stores got the same breaks. So, somehow I don't think that the union did a darn thing for me.

Hooray if they did more for you.

They did more for you than you think...

Why do you think there WAS a Federal Minimum wage? Unions worked long and hard to get that established. As a box boy, you were probably part time, but full-time employees likely had some sort of health benefit package, paid partly by the employee and partly by the employer... that would have been the standard arrangement. Federal minimum time and hour rates existed because unions fought for them over the course of several decades. You got breaks? SOme decades back, a break was what you took if you wanted to be fired.

Because the unions were successful at the Federal level, workers in union and non-union jobs both benefitted, but only union members stepped up to bear the cost of fighting for things you apparently took completely for granted. You might want to study a little labor history before you're so quick to condemn the union movement.

Big difference

There's a huge difference between those first unions that broke the chokehold of private employers in the early twentieth centuries and the bloated, greedy unions that exist now. Unions today aren't bargaining for minimum wage or simple benefits. They're bargaining for wages well above what the equivalent non-union job pays, free benefits, and free pensions. To union people a "living wage" means starting a GED level job at $40k and reaching six figures before retirement. And the benefits tend to be extravagant, like paying absolutely nothing for health care and getting free legal services. And most unions members pay hardly anything--if anything at all--towards their pensions whereas the rest of us have to pay upwards of 100% of retirement costs.

With unions it's all about greed and power. Nothing less.

pension fund

Untrue for teachers in Idaho. We pay a large amount to our pension and to Social Security both. I don't know about other public employes, but since we all belong to PERSI, I guess they do to. As a teacher, I always encouraged my students to check the facts.

marsgirl, you should also

marsgirl, you should also teach your students about comparative analysis so they can define "large."

You define "large" for us

Either you are a teacher, and know how much gets paid to PERSI, or you are not a teacher, and have no idea what gets paid to PERSI.

gee, ccd3, I wonder...

what are corporations about if not greed and power?
Oops, I mean, what is their usefulness beyond greed and power?

Please cite:

a union that has a zero contribution for pension.
Please cite that corporate retirements are 100% employee. Not true for Micron, Blue Cross of Idaho, etc...

union are a joke the only

union are a joke the only people that work under unions are employees no one else wants

And you know this

And you know this because....?

Do you have a job?

If so, one can hope it doesn't involve any reading or writing. If not, why are you spewing about working people?


Unions were very important in the early part of the industrial age, specifically relating to mining and manufacturing jobs.

Now, we pay the government to handle items like insurance, wages, safety and other items that unions were specifically responsible for 50 years or more ago. We pay for OSHA, Federal Mine safety programs, and many other programs through "Taxes". Essentially, paying twice and receiving little, if any, benefit.

Unions today (last 30 years) have done more to hurt the economy than help. While they were initially responsible for doing good, they ended up with massive amounts of corruption embedded within their organizations, costing members and taxpayers, huge amounts of money. Essentially, most of these organizations turned into huge profit centers, forcing workers to pay higher dues while the union leaders lined their pockets.

Unions had an enormous benefit to our society...but the value is not present today in most cases, and have helped to drive decent jobs in many sectors away.

Do you think the IEA wants to have 700 less members today than it did last year? would provide less money in the bank. This is the real issue for the IEA with Luna's education plan. They can say all they want about how it's for the students. For the leaders of the IEA, it's about the money!